The Law of Karma and Wishing Harm on Others

When is it ok to wish ill on someone?

Well, the short answer is: never.

And the long answer is: never.

It’s never ok to wish harm on anyone else. If you do, you’re actually inviting that bad energy back into your life tenfold. Karma doesn’t discriminate in that regard – what you reap, you will (eventually) sow. Always.

I actually know of several “spiritual” teachers who have given clients invocations of harm toward another person. Every time I hear of it – I shudder. (Seriously, yikes!) Thankfully, my first brush with understanding this simple truth came from my Reiki grandfather who taught me a very simple lesson: You never impose your will on anyone else. Ever. To do so is to practice black magic, and it will always rebound onto you. Always.

I learned this within the first week of studying Reiki and beginning to uncover my own gifts, but millennia of history in other traditions teach the same message, most commonly:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you don’t want someone wishing harm on you, don’t wish it on others. It’s really that simple. We only choose to make it more complicated by employing the three most dysfunctional attributes of the mind: justification, generalization, and rationalization.

Perhaps, though, rather than getting mired in the teachings of the past, or the simple truths that echo through their wisdom, it might be more practical today to think of it this way:

You can’t cast a negative net and expect to catch anything positive.

Nothing good comes from sowing or spewing venom or toxicity in the world. Even though it might “feel” good in the moment, it will ultimately cause more problems in the long run. Of course, the long run could be your next lifetime, but that still doesn’t make it right.

In this age of instant gratification and guarded consequences, it’s increasingly more important for us to remember the simple truths and the wisdom of the ages. They’ve lasted as long as they have because they’re as pure as it gets. Time can’t tarnish them.

As for what to do when you feel wronged by someone? It’s 100% natural to vent, cry, get angry and experience all of the emotions running through your body… stopping just short of desiring harm on the other party. Not only will you be properly managing your karma, you’ll also actually feel better for not having created more toxicity in the situation. That’s a win-win if ever there was one.

Or, as another great teacher once taught: turn the other cheek. Which can either translate as 1) allow yourself to be hit again, or 2) (as I prefer) turn and walk away, removing yourself from the drama of the other person, and staying true to who you are.

There’s no shame in disengaging. The only real loss is when you choose to engage in something destructive and negative from a place of hurt or fear, because it perpetuates the cycle of harm – a cycle you’re standing squarely in the middle of. Yikes!


  • Sarah
    September 1st, 2018 · Reply

    LOVE that negative net example! Good for a little someone in my house.

  • Cate
    November 21st, 2018 · Reply

    This seems generally wise and helpful. However, “stopping just short of desiring harm” suggests we have some control over our feelings and thoughts. We don’t; they arise, and we choose how to work with them. This includes the wish that others suffer. It should not be avoided nor suppressed as karmically dangerous or unacceptable, but understood as an expression of anger, helplessness and hurt. This is not to indulge nor amplify, but to acknowledge and relate to with compassion and curiosity, no less than other feelings and thoughts.

    • Martina
      November 21st, 2018 · Reply

      Yes – that’s 100% true. Feelings and are feelings, they come and go, and we don’t control that. It’s what we choose to do with them that we have input on. As you said, “we choose how to work with them.” So, you and I are saying the same thing, essentially (yay!). Feel the feelings, but then choose how you want to work with them. I choose to not wish harm (which is an action), no matter how angry or upset I am… because I believe it’s wrong, for many reasons.

    June 22nd, 2019 · Reply

    what if someone is continually, damaging your property?.

    • Martina
      June 23rd, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Philip, Karma isn’t about blanket acceptance of others’ behavior. We shouldn’t let people hurt us, walk all over us, or damage our property and simply accept their behavior, because, “well.. it’s karma.” That’s a lack of boundaries. We have to maintain our own boundaries throughout our life. If someone crosses over them there are consequences for that. How you choose to respond affects your karma. How they choose to act affects their karma. If, for example, you choose to respond in retaliation, by destroying their property, then that’s on you and there are (should be) consequences for that. If, however, you use laws to protect your property (and reinforce your boundaries), and the consequences go to the one damaging it, then that’s their karma to deal with. As it should be. Hope that helps.

    • Juanita
      July 9th, 2019 · Reply

      Then avoidance might be a good thing. Let karma handle that.

  • TC
    September 7th, 2019 · Reply

    There are people who to deserve to be punished and many of them have wronged me. I’ll never forgive them for costing me my job when I’m a hard-working person who treats others with respect. That’s why I hate my enemies.

  • Elizabeth Davie
    September 15th, 2019 · Reply

    I try not to wish bad I just keep away from that sort of person.
    I was falsley told I had cancer and made to have a hysterectomy once.
    Bullied into the opp by my sister who was speaking to my surgeon. I had the opp and she never phoned me or offers to help me. She told me sharply it was just a precaution opp. Then she turned her head away from m She died of cancer a few years later.
    My boyfriend at the time was visiting his X wife telling her I was dying of Cancer. I was told by a man who came to see me in hospital what he was doing. When he came to see me in hospital I told him I had had the all clear. His face dropped at the good news. He died of cancer and refused treatment. I did not wish it so much time had gone I didn’t care I had broken contact with them.
    I know it was Karma they brought upon themselves. It doesn’t give me pleasure but it does give me a sense of justice. Elizabeth D.


    • Martina
      September 25th, 2019 · Reply

      I’m so sorry you went through that. And yes, sometimes just “keep(ing) away from that sort of person” is the best policy.

  • Gabby
    December 30th, 2019 · Reply

    What about wishing misfortune on the man that repeatedly molested my daughter and received NO punishment by means of the law or church? He’s remained untouched while my daughter suffers deeply every day. I hate him. I am very angry at this injustice!

    • Martina
      January 11th, 2020 · Reply

      I am so so sorry. That is wrong on every level. My heart goes out to you both, because this should never have happened. Your anger is completely understandable, and I would never suggest that you should not be angry at this injustice. What happened was wrong. Both what happened to your daughter and the lack of accountability. I hear you, and I send you both love and virtual hugs for what you’ve been through. My hope is that with time, you both find healing, and that the injustice is remedied somehow.

  • Trish S
    March 18th, 2020 · Reply

    Martina, the people living above me make a lot of noise. Whenever I complain to the building manager, they make even more noise, banging their feet on the floor late at night in retaliation. They are a young couple, and I am alone and older. I have found another place and I’m moving, though it has been hard on me physically and financially. So what is wrong with hoping they have the same experience someday, and find out what it feels like. I want to say to them before I go, I wish you karma. Is there anything wrong with saying that?

    • Martina Faulkner
      March 19th, 2020 · Reply

      Hi Trish – firstly, I’m sorry you’re having to move and that you experienced that. I have too – and it’s infuriating at times. I definitely have called my fair share of building managers in the past, so I’m glad you did. Unfortunately, instead of realizing they were being inconsiderate, they chose to ignore their role in all of it. That means, for them, their “lesson” will be bigger and more severe. Will it happen in this lifetime? The next one? We don’t know. What matters now for you is that you leave free and clear. Carrying resentment in your heart will only hurt you – not them (as they’ve shown they are incapable of empathy). So… I ask you: what good does it do for you to wish them ill? Could you instead say: “May karma take effect… and may I be released from all anger.” Karma will always take effect, we just don’t get to say when. What matters is that we keep our side of the street clean, practice good boundaries and empathy, and release the things that keep us stuck. Is this easy? Certainly not. Sometimes it’s easier than others. So, my wish for you is that your new home brings you much joy and peace, and you find neighbors who are kind and thoughtful.

  • 🦋
    March 19th, 2020 · Reply

    Hey I’ve wished horrible things on people before In the past, when I was younger I didn’t understand karma or the power of the tongue I was about 18 or 19 and even younger then that, now that I’m older I’m 25 and I take words very seriously bcuz I know the power of manifestation. I’ve ask god and the universe for forgiveness and asked that god protect them, (the people I wished harm) bcuz I’m truly sorry but also afraid of my own karma, I know now that my karma can skip me and go on to my future children, or other loved ones. which I do not wish to happen. Sometimes, I find myself getting so angry and worked up that I would start putting these scenarios together or I will find my emotions building up and I’ll would think the bad things I want to say, (BUT I DON’T SPEAK THEM) but I do know thoughts become things, but then moments later I ask god and the universe for forgiveness and to please forgive my emotions, I don’t know why I have such a mean streak and I don’t know why I keep allowing myself to get so angry when I know that it’s the wrong way to go. Especially straight to wishes harm on somebody even if split seconds later I’m asking god to forgive these emotions. I know god and the universe are forgiving, but sometimes I feel as though I’m not being heard or forgiven because of my anger, I’m not the type of person to act on my anger but I’m someone who would wish things, with full knowledge of the tongue being as powerful as it is. Most of all, I feel a uncontrollable amount of anxiety and guilt, especially guilt, especially if I receive what I manifested. The anxiety is always the worse because I know my karma is coming . But i don’t know when. When I comes to my karma involving my actions, it always happens right away. I remember I stole something once, I came home and my mom needed me to help her cut onions, and I sliced my finger with the knife, I noticed it was the hand I stole with. When even I do something I know is wrong And I still do it, I admittedly receive my karma. But when it involves my words or bad thoughts I dnt know when it’s coming i dnt know if it’s bcuz I’ll ask for forgiveness and then I’ll “take back” what I said. I feel like it’s a recurring thing and that the universe and god has to be tired of it. Even though I know that’s not true. But my mind makes me feel that way. I always ask god to forgive me and I’ll take back those horrible wishes, but the guilt of me saying it, is the worse because I know it’s wrong, also because I don’t want no one to feel pain of losing a loved one. The guilt set in especially when I ask for something and receive it and then I”ll allow myself to get so angry, I wish harm on people. I feel so undeserving of god and blessings, no matter how much I ask for to forgive my words even if it’s seconds later. Sometimes I feel like this guilt I have with me is apart of my karma.

    • Martina Faulkner
      March 22nd, 2020 · Reply

      If I had only one thing to say to you it’s that it was very brave of you to share that. And if I could say two things (which I can), I’d say: take that bravery you have and use it to work on forgiving yourself, so that you can live more freely. xo

  • Gordon
    March 22nd, 2020 · Reply

    “…perpetuating the cycle of harm”, love that. Don’t let other people infect you with their pain and pettiness. Rise above and don’t look back. Your life is too short to let someone else ruin it.

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